Food businesses face increased federal regulation

[Source: Mike Sunnucks and Jolie McCullough, Phoenix Business Journal] — Owners of small food-related businesses in the Valley are concerned about a federal plan to expand the government’s power to police food-related businesses and production.  That includes the ability to issue recalls, quarantine food supplies in contamination cases, and impose larger penalties on companies that violate food safety rules.

One bill making its way through Congress, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, would create a $500 annual federal licensing fee for food sellers and producers to fund a wider food-policing role for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  The federal fee would piggyback any local licensing requirements.

Local independent and small-business owners say new federal fees and regulations likely would squeeze their already tight operating margins.  They are concerned such rules will pressure smaller operators and micro-businesses, even though recent food contamination incidents have occurred at larger corporate farms and production plants…

Adding more federal fees and regulatory layers will add to their costs and eat away at their viability, said Joe Vanderhart, owner of Farmer Joe’s Veggies and a vendor at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.   “A lot of them aren’t really that big, and they aren’t making a lot of money anyway, so any extra expense isn’t going to be good for them,” Vanderhart said…  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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